How much can you save reloading your own ammo? Well that depends on the cost of components and how much you have invested in your reloading gear. UltimateReloader.com has created a handy online Reloading Costs Calculator that lets you quickly compare the cost of reloaded ammo vs. factory ammo. Just enter the costs of powder, primers, bullets, and brass, and the Calculator will tell you the cost per round, per 20-rd box, per 50-rd box, and cost per thousand. Note — when setting the price of the brass you need to divide the initial cost by the number of predicted reloads. For example if you have 500 pieces of brass that cost $40/100 to buy ($200 total), but you get 8 reloads per case, then you put $25.00 in the Calculator ($200 total brass cost divided by 8).
True Reloading Cost Should Include Amortized Tool Expenses
Ah… but there is a catch. To understand the true cost of reloading, you also need to consider the costs of your tools and accessories, amortized over the tools’ loading lifespan. Let’s say you have $1000.00 invested in presses, dies, tumblers, measuring tools and other accessories, with a residual value of $500.00 (upon resale). If you load 5,000 rounds with those tools over their lifespan, you need to add $0.10 per round for tooling costs (your investment minus residual value, divided by the number of rounds loaded). The UltimateReloader.com Calculator does not include amortized tooling costs, but that’s something you can easily figure out on your own.
Excellent Resource for Reloading Videos
After you’ve tried out the Reloading Costs Calculator, check out the other content on UltimateReloader.com. This site features some of the best gun-related “how-to” videos on the internet. With sharp video and clear audio, the production quality is very high. If you use a progressive press (Dillon, Hornady, RCBS), you should definitely watch UltimateReloader.com’s videos — you’ll probably learn a new trick or two. In the sample video below, you can see how Hornady’s new Bullet Feeder works with its Lock-N-Load Progressive press.
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The days of the “ORM-D: Small Arms Cartridges” labels for ammo shipments are numbered. The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) is phasing out the current ORM-D ammo labels, replacing them with a larger striped diamond label that does not mention “Small Arms Cartridges”. This change is designed to harmonize U.S. shipping rules with United Nations standards. You can start using the new “Limited Quantity” diamond labels for ammo shipments right now, and they will be mandatory next year, as of January 1, 2014. You can continue to use the old ORM-D “Cartridges, Small Arms” labels until December 31, 2013. But starting on January 1, 2014, you MUST use the Striped Diamonds.
OFFICIAL UPS RULES — Elimination of ORM-D Classification
In an attempt to harmonize and align with international standards, the DOT has amended the 49CFR regulations regarding the ORM-D classification. Effective January 19, 2011, with the publication of the HM-215K final rule, the hazard class of ORM-D is being eliminated. Those materials may still be shipped classified as a limited quantity (“Ltd Qty”). In conjunction with ORM-D hazard class elimination in HM-215K, limited quantity ground shipments will no longer require shipping papers when prepared under the new rule. This includes those materials previously classed as Ltd Qty that required shipping papers via ground transport.
Ground Ltd Qty Marking
Air Ltd Qty Marking
NOTE: These illustrations are not true to scale. The actual default Ltd Qty Diamond label to be used for ammo shipments is much larger, about 5″ per side. A smaller 2″ per side version of the Ltd Qty striped diamond can be used on smaller packages.
There is a transition period for shippers to comply with the new classification, marking and labeling requirements. Until December 31, 2013 a limited quantity package containing a consumer commodity as defined in 171.8 may be reclassed as ORM-D, or until December 31, 2012 for ORM-D-Air material. UPS began accepting materials with the new markings effective April 1, 2011. Note: To be in compliance with TDG, Standard (ground) Ltd Qty shipments to Canada prepared under HM-215K require the verbiage ‘Limited quantity’ or ‘Ltd qty’ to also be marked on the carton.
Download OLD and NEW Label Formats
On the Parallax Curio and Relic Forum, a thread includes PDF samples of both the new Diamond Ltd Qty Labels and the current ORM-D Labels. The thread explains: “The good news is the new label doesn’t have any indicator that the package contains ammunition. The bad news is the new label is gigantic compared to the old ORM-D label. You are required to use one of the larger labels on one side of any package containing ammunition. If the package is too small for one of the larger labels then you are permitted to use one of the smaller labels instead. Because of the size requirement in the regulations, you only get two of each label on standard piece of printer paper.”
When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.
Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”
Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.
The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $13 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° cutter for its NT-1000, NT-1500, and NT-4000 neck-turning tools. Item NT-3140, it sells for $12.95. There is also a 40° cutter for the NT-3000 tool, item NT-3340 ($13.95).
Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”
A while back, Forum member BigBlack had an experience at the gun range that reminds us of the importance of safety when shooting. He encountered evidence that someone had fired the wrong cartridge in a 7mm WSM rifle. The problem is more common than you may think. This editor has personally seen novices try to shoot 9mm ammo in 40sw pistols. BigBlack’s story is along those lines, though the results were much more dramatic. It’s too bad a knowledgeable shooter was not nearby to “intervene” before this fellow chambered the wrong ammo.
7mm-08 is Not the Same as a 7mm WSM
BigBlack writes: “I know this has probably been replayed a thousand times but I feel we can never be reminded enough about safety. This weekend at the range I found a ruptured case on the ground. My immediate thoughts were that it was a hot load, but the neck area was begging for me to take a closer look, so I did. I took home the exploded case and rummaged through my old cases until I found a close match. From my investigative work it appears someone shot a 7mm-08 in a 7mm WSM. Take a look. In the photo below I’ve put together a 7mm WSM case (top), the ruptured case (middle), and a 7mm-08 case (bottom).”
You can see from the photo what probably happened to the 7mm-08 case. The shoulder moved forward to match the 7mm WSM profile. The sidewalls of the case expanded outward in the much larger 7mm WSM chamber until they lacked the strength to contain the charge, and then the case sides ruptured catastophically. A blow-out of this kind can be very dangerous, as the expanding gasses may not be completely contained within the action.
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If you want to see how a muzzle brake really works, definitely watch this remarkable slow-motion video compiled by Proof Research.
This amazing video features a variety of firearms: suppressed 9mm pistol, .338 Norma rifle, .300 WinMag rifle, 12ga comp’d shotgun, plus an AR15 and AR10.
This Must-Watch Video Has Some Amazing Ultra-Slow-Motion Segments
Watch the ultra-slow motion segment at the 2:55 mark and you can actually see a .30-cal bullet spin its way through the muzzle brake, leaving trail of flame that blows out the ports. Interestingly, at the 3:10 mark, you can also see a bright “afterburn” ball of fire that forms a few inches ahead of the muzzle milliseconds after the bullet has left the barrel. Perhaps this is late ignition of unburned powder?
More and more shooters are “wet-tumbling” their brass (in liquid) with reusable polishing media, rather than using dry media in a vibratory tumbler. The “wet-cleaning” method works best with a rotary tumbler fitted with a water-tight, horizontal drum to hold your brass, cleaning solution, and stainless, pin-type media. The rotary tumbler of choice has been the Thumler’s Tumbler Model B Heavy-Duty. That is a great, sturdy machine, but now you have a more affordable option.
Frankford Arsenal has introduced a new “Platinum Series” rotary tumbler designed to clean cartridge brass with liquid and stainless media. We don’t have an official MSRP yet, but Grafs.com is listing the Rotary Tumbler at $180.99. This new tumbler should be available in early 2014 if not sooner. The watertight, polymer drum rides on four rollers which rotate the drum around its horizontal axis. Two filters are provided so you can quickly separate your brass and media. A built-in timer allows you to set tumbling sessions up to three hours. Frankford Arsenal says its new product will clean up to 1000 cases of .223 Rem brass. That’s impressive capacity.
How to Wet-Clean Your Brass in a Rotary Tumbler
On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours. CLICK HERE for Brass Cleaning System Review
Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers.
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Get an inside look at the how ammunition is made with this step-by-step production guide from Hornady. The video begins by showing the stages in production of a lead-core jacketed bullet with exposed tip, such as the Hornady Interlock. Next, at the 1:38″ time-mark, the video shows how cartridge cases are made, starting with small brass cups (photo right). The brass is lengthened in a series of stages involving annealing, drawing, polishing, and the formation of the case head with primer pocket. Finally, at the 2:40″ time mark, the video shows how bullets and powder are seated into cartridge cases on the Hornady assembly line. In the final production stages, the completed ammunition is tested and packaged.
Watch Ammo Production Video
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It’s a challenge these days to find affordable, general-purpose .22 LR rimfire ammunition. You can find the high-end, expensive stuff at various vendors, but sourcing quality rimfire ammo in the $4.00 to $6.50 per box price range is difficult. If you’re looking for good rimfire training ammo, here’s a new option. Bullets.com, the new shooting supplies vendor, has obtained quantities of Norma, SK, and Lapua rimfire ammo. Bullets.com is one of the few webstores that has the new Norma Tac-22 ammo. This .22 LR ammunition is loaded with a Lead Round Nose 40-grain bullet. It is rated at 1100 FPS with target energy of 110 foot/pounds.
Norma USA Tac-22, $5.95 per 50-rd box | SKU: BL7819
This is the new rimfire ammunition from Norma. We haven’t tested it yet, but based on Norma’s reputation we expect that it offers good performance for the price. It has a 40gr LRN bullet and is designed for all types of rimfire pistols and rifles.
SK Standard Plus .22 LR, $5.95 per 50-rd box | SKU: BL11113
This is good LRN ammo made in Germany by SK. This “Standard Plus” ammo has shot well for us in Anschutz, H&R, Rem 40X, and Suhl rifles and has fed and functioned well in a variety of other rimfire pistols and rifles. We have found that, in most rifles, SK “Standard Plus” shoots much better than the “bulk box” Federal, Remington, or Winchester ammo.
SK Bulk .22LR Ammo, $44.95 per 500-rd Sealed Can | SKU: BL11115
This is SK-brand ammunition, with 500 rounds packed inside a sealed can. Readers who have purchased this ammo in the past say it is very similar to SK Standard Plus. One purchaser said it performed “as good, if not better, than any other sub-match-grade ammo out there.”
Please note, due to high demand of these products, quantity is limited to 1000 cartridges per customer.
NOTE: If you need match-grade ammo, Bullets.com also has Lapua Center-X at $11.95 per 50-rd box and Lapua Midas+ at $17.95 per 50-rd box.
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In discussions of ballistics, you’ll see references to “tangent” and “secant” bullet shapes. We know that, for many readers, these terms can be confusing. To add to the confusion, bullet makers don’t always identify their projectiles as secant or tangent designs. This article provides a basic explanation of tangent and secant designs, to help you understand the characteristics of both bullet shapes.
Tangent vs. Secant vs. Hybrid
Most match bullets produced today use a tangent ogive profile, but the modern VLD-style bullets employ a secant profile. To further complicate matters, the latest generation of “Hybrid” projectiles from Berger Bullets feature a blended secant + tangent profile to combine the best qualities of both nose shapes. The secant section provides reduced drag, while the tangent section makes the bullet easier to tune, i.e. less sensitive to bullet seating depth position.
Berger Bullets ballistician Bryan Litz explains tangent and secant bullet ogive designs in a glossary section of his Applied Ballistics website, which we reprint below. Bryan then explains how tangent and secant profiles can be combined in a “hybrid” design.
How Bullet Ogive Curves are Defined
While the term “ogive” is often used to describe the particular point on the bullet where the curve reaches full bullet diameter, in fact the “ogive” properly refers to the entire curve of the bullet from the tip to the full-diameter straight section — the shank. Understanding then, that the ogive is a curve, how is that curve described?
LITZ: The ogive of a bullet is usually characterized by the length of its radius. This radius is often given in calibers instead of inches. For example, an 8 ogive 6mm bullet has an ogive that is a segment of a circular arc with a radius of 8*.243 = 1.952”. A .30-caliber bullet with an 8 ogive will be proportionally the same as the 8 ogive 6mm bullet, but the actual radius will be 2.464” for the .30 caliber bullet.
For a given nose length, if an ogive is perfectly tangent, it will have a very specific radius. Any radius longer than that will cause the ogive to be secant. Secant ogives can range from very mild (short radius) to very aggressive (long radius). The drag of a secant ogive is minimized when its radius is twice as long as a tangent ogive radius. In other words, if a tangent ogive has an 8 caliber radius, then the longest practical secant ogive radius is 16 calibers long for a given nose length.”
Ogive Metrics and Rt/R Ratio
LITZ: There is a number that’s used to quantify how secant an ogive is. The metric is known as the Rt/R ratio and it’s the ratio of the tangent ogive radius to the actual ogive radius for a given bullet. In the above example, the 16 caliber ogive would have an Rt/R ratio of 0.5. The number 0.5 is therefore the lowest practical value for the Rt/R ratio, and represents the minimum drag ogive for a given length. An ogive that’s perfectly tangent will have an Rt/R ratio of 1.0. Most ogives are in between an Rt/R of 1.0 and 0.5. The dimensioned drawings at the end of my Applied Ballistics book provide the bullets ogive radius in calibers, as well as the Rt/R ratio. In short, the Rt/R ratio is simply a measure of how secant an ogive is. 1.0 is not secant at all, 0.5 is as secant as it gets.
Hybrid Bullet Design — Best of Both Worlds?
Bryan Litz has developed a number of modern “Hybrid” design bullets for Berger. The objective of Bryan’s design work has been to achieve a very low drag design that is also “not finicky”. Normal (non-hybrid) secant designs, such as the Berger 105gr VLD, deliver very impressive BC values, but the bullets can be sensitive to seating depth. Montana’s Tom Mousel has set world records with the Berger 105gr VLD in his 6mm Dasher, but he tells us “seating depth is critical to the best accuracy”. Tom says a mere .003″ seating depth change “makes a difference”. In an effort to produce more forgiving high-BC bullets, Bryan Litz developed the hybrid tangent/secant bullet shape.
Bryan Litz Explains Hybrid Design and Optimal Hybrid Seating Depths
Story sourced by Edlongrange.
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NormaUSA recently rolled out a handsome new, easy-to-navigate website. On Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and loaded ammunition. The site also offers a collection of videos plus links to Norma Reloading Data.
One highlight of the new Norma website is the new Cartridge of the Month section. This feature provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently five Cartridge of the Month articles, with more to come each month.
History of the 6.5×284 Norma
Among the few “wildcat” cartridges to ever be legitimized, the 6.5×284 Norma has the distinction of being the only one to succeed when the parent cartridge — the .284 Winchester — was a commercial failure. The 284 Win’s case had unique design features endearing it to wildcatters. Foremost, the non-belted case featured a rebated rim equal in width to that of the .30-06 Springfield. [B]ody diameter tapers from 0.500” ahead of the extractor to 0.475” rearward of the shoulder. The minimal body taper, when combined with a 35-degree shoulder angle, enabled greater propellant capacity. The latter would be particularly appealing to those individuals who, above all else, demanded ultra-high velocities; remember, this was during the period during which the .264 Win Mag, .300 Win Mag, and other “high-performance” cartridges were unveiled. Additionally, the propellant column was in the desirable short, fat column, which purportedly leads to increased accuracy. With this, the maximum average pressure (MAP) was set at an unusually high 56,000 copper units of pressure (C.U.P.); to handle such pressure, the case is obviously quite strong.
Long-range competitors are particularly fond of the 6.5×284 Norma. Why? Propelling bullets with high ballistic coefficients (BCs) to respectable velocities results in less time-to-target (and thus wind deflection), as well as reduced drop. Compared to proven performers of the past, such as the .300 Win. Mag., the 6.5-284 Norma’s recoil is quite mild—thanks to lighter bullet weights combined with smaller propellant charges. Fatigue from recoil negatively affects performance, so less abuse without sacrificing performance is a huge advantage on the firing line.
There are currently five Cartridge of the Month articles on the Norma-USA website:
We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.
Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:
Varget .308 load
CCI BR2 Primers
Wolf LR Primers
You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)
WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load.
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Conventional .308 Winchester brass has a large primer pocket with a large, 0.080″-diameter flash hole. Last year, Lapua began producing special edition .308 Win “Palma” brass that has a small primer pocket and a small flash hole, sized 1.5mm (.059″) in diameter. Tests by U.S. Palma Team members showed that the small-flash-hole .308 brass possibly delivers lower Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) with some bullet/powder/primer combinations. All things being equal, a lower ES should reduce vertical dispersion at long range.
Why Might a Small Flash Hole Work Better?
The performance of the small-flash-hole .308 brass caused some folks to speculate why ES/SD might be improved with a smaller flash hole. One theory (and it’s just a theory) is that the small flash hole creates more of a “jet” effect when the primer fires. Contributing Editor German Salazar sought to find out, experimentally, whether this theory is correct. German explained: “During one of the many internet forum discussions of these cases, Al Matson (AlinWA) opined that the small flash hole might cause the primer flash to be propagated forward more vigorously. In his words, it should be like shooting a volume of water through a smaller nozzle, resulting in a flash that reaches further up the case. Now that kind of comment really sparked my curiosity, so I decided to see what I could see.”
More Primer Testing by Salazar
You can read more about this test and other primer experiments on RiflemansJournal.com.
Large and Small Flash Hole .308 Cases — But Both with Small Primer Pockets
To isolate the effect of flash hole diameter alone, German set up a test with the two types of .308 case that have a small primer pocket: Remington BR brass with a 0.080″ flash hole and Lapua Palma brass with a 0.062″ flash hole. NOTE: German reamed the Lapua brass to 0.062″ with a Sinclair uniforming tool, so it was slightly larger than the 0.059″ factory spec. The Remington brass has a .22 BR headstamp as this brass was actually meant to be re-formed into .22 BR or 6 BR before there was factory brass available for those cartridges.
German set up his primer testing fixture, and took photos in low light so you can see the propagation of the primer “blast” easily. He first tested the Remington 7 1/2 primer, a primer known for giving a large flame front. German notes: “I thought that if there was a ‘nozzle effect’ from the small flash hole, this primer would show it best. As you can see from the photos, there might be a little bit of a flash reduction effect with this primer and the small flash hole, the opposite of what we expected, but it doesn’t appear to be of a significant order of magnitude.”
Next German tested the Wolf .223 primer, an unplated version of the Small Rifle Magnum that so many shooters use. German notes: “This is a reduced flame-front (low flash) primer which has proven itself to be very accurate and will likely see a lot of use in the Lapua cases. With this primer, I couldn’t detect any difference in the flash produced by the small flash hole versus the large flash hole”.
Remington BR case, 0.080″ Flash Hole, Wolf .223 Primer.
Palma case, 0.062″ Flash Hole, Wolf 223 Primer.
German tells us: “I fired five or six of each primer to get these images, and while there is always a bit of variance, these are an accurate representation of each primer type and case type. You can draw your own conclusions from all this, I’m just presenting the data for you. I don’t necessarily draw any conclusions as to how any combination will shoot based on the pictures.”
Results of Testing
Overall, looking at German’s results, one might say that the smaller diameter of the small flash hole does not seem to have significantly changed the length or size of the primer flame front. There is no discernible increased “jet effect”.
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